How Do Work Schedules Affect the Home

homHow do work schedules affect the home? Where do we draw the line between our calling and sacrificing time with our family?

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. Harold’s dream is to get back into flying commercially after being away for the last 7 1/2 years. A big reason he left in the first place was because of low pay and an upgrade freeze. His student loans kept coming out of forbearance and amounting to the size of a mortgage payment. We couldn’t afford to make the payments. And as far as his work schedule went, it was variable; his trips would typically last anywhere from three to six days and then he would be home for two to four days.

Now that he is back in aviation, we’re going back to that variable schedule.

This type of schedule can be hard on marriages, whether or not children are involved. But I don’t believe the schedule is at fault when marriages fall apart.

There are certain things that come with any career. Certain expectations that are just part of doing business in that particular field. Most commercial pilots are away from home. They don’t have the ability to be home every night like some other careers allow. And other careers require the individual to be away from home, too. Or have a variable schedule that is even harder to adapt to.

But when we make our marriage vows, we make a commitment to one another. Whether we like it or not, the craziness of our spouse’s career becomes a part of our lives, too. We knew what we were signing up for. Sometimes people change their priorities and they give up on things that they once cared about because they care about something else more. But that isn’t always the case, and it shouldn’t be a requirement.

There is no arguing our calling. It’s just there and it stays with us even when we try to let it go. Sometimes we are able to let it go for a certain amount of time, but it pulls us right back in somewhere down the road. We feel a pull toward our calling, an urge or strong desire to fulfill that divine purpose. To deny ourselves is to deny God. We know what we should be doing, but when we don’t do it, we sacrifice more than what appears on the surface.

Personal fulfillment has a lot to do with this calling. Neglect of a calling can result in a person being home, but not mentally present. It can lead to frustration, irritability, and feeling uninspired. A strong marriage doesn’t require a spouse to be home every night; it requires a strong commitment to one another, trust, understanding, and quality time. Quality time is hard to achieve when one person in the relationship (or both) is not meeting his own personal goals that relate to his calling. Each of us has a divine purpose, and it’s up to us to work toward it.

The big question here is this: what is it you *think* you should be doing? And what will happen if you do the thing you *think* you should do?

If you give up on your career (and this applies only if your current career is your divine calling), what will happen? Will you be able to feel fulfilled in some other job? I can’t answer that question for you. Only you know the answer. And there isn’t anything wrong with taking a detour. Sometimes a detour is a blessing in disguise. But when that calling comes up again, will you be ready to answer?

Redefining Your Perception on Marriage

adSo many singles just hear that people are getting married and want to do same for the wrong reasons. They do not know what they are getting themselves into. The glamour of the wedding beclouds their judgement and the promise of a happy life ever after propels them to make decisions with their heads and not their hearts. No matter how many marital books you read or marriage seminars you attend, you can never be too prepared for marriage. There’s nothing like the real deal, so learn to manage your expectations so that you don’t get disappointed. Many singles think that they will be good marriage counselors because of the wealth of knowledge they garnered from books, only to get married and realize that it is easier to assess others than to be assessed. They soon discover the difference between literature and reality.

Many people have painted for themselves, a lovey-dovey picture about marriage portrayed by Rom-Com movies and Romance novels and this make singles fantasize and anticipate a perfect marriage. Romance is a good thing but just before you dive in, stop and ask yourself if you’re actually thinking before acting; The reason is because we keep making the same mistakes with our choices and do not learn from the experiences of others. The fact that some people come to social media on wedding anniversaries and write about how good, caring and supportive their spouse had been or how wonderful their marriage had been doesn’t mean that it is the true picture; they may be covering up their mess or hiding the scars from salvaged marriages.

Ladies, a man may mistakenly put you in the family way and make you have a baby out of wedlock but that doesn’t make him a husband; mistakes happen, learn, move on and don’t give up on yourself. Remember, there are many daddies out there but few fathers. Many are simply sperm donors with no accountability whatsoever. Don’t allow any man answer your crucial questions with motivational speeches like “I’m young and promising and capable of making you happy” when he doesn’t even have a job, incapable of getting one, lacks ideas on how to create one or simply clueless. Security in marriage is not found in men with 6-pack; a well-built man is attractive but a well-built home is long lasting and fulfilling. Don’t be a liability looking for accomplished men to attach yourself to for a better future; be a successful single and then accomplish greater things with your spouse.

Gentlemen, many of the hour-glass shaped ladies with long legs and smooth skins in the magazines you drool over are not found in homes but in the photo studios. When you do see them and that’s if you ever do, ask them how long it took them to look that way, how many people helped them look that way and ask their photographers how long it took them to complete their Photoshop. A wife and mother has got no such time; her hands will be rough from cooking your meals and doing your dirty laundry; her body will be battered from bearing your children. So, be careful what you wish for; wife materials are not groomed in public places. If you’re not a proper bachelor, you can hardly become a good husband; If you do not learn how to manage yourself and your resources as a single, you can hardly manage a home. Don’t start a family when you know you cannot provide for the basic needs; it’s a shame!

Please don’t get me wrong, no one is perfect; everyone is striving to be the best to their loved ones. We do not have the luxury or the capacity to mold the kind of partner we want; hence the need to look out for who we think is right. Please note that marriage is more about companionship, responsibility, accountability and sacrifice and less about sex, freedom, rings and titles of Mr. and Mrs. Do not marry just to make others happy and live in misery all your life. Do not marry out of pity, I cannot overemphasize this. Do not marry because 99.9% of people believe you’re good together. People change every day and marriage exposes everyone with time. People may pretend for years in relationships but in marriage, it takes just few days or months for the reality to set in.

Finally, guard your heart diligently. Do not rush into marriage now only to rush out a couple of months later. Age is a number; it shouldn’t be your number 1 reason for diving in. Study your partner carefully, do not be blinded by love or lust and neglect the details. Look, before marriage, you will be familiar with the big issues; it is the tiny details you overlooked that will do the damage. Do not marry if you’re incapable of forgiving your partner. I hear people say marriage is to be enjoyed and not endured; actually, prepare for both. There are so many marital victims out there, don’t be one of them and if you are, pray your way out of it. Look before you leap and just like a swimmer, do not dive into a pool that you have not properly assessed its depth; you may end up striking your head at the bottom and the damage may be irreparable.

Which Steps Should You Follow

dfgHaving your spouse move back in after a trial separation is the goal that most of us are hoping for more than anything else. That is the day that is marked in red on your calendar. That is the day that is going to seem like Christmas morning and your birthday all rolled into one.

But as the day looms large, you can start to worry about it. Many of us are aware that this might be our one and only chance to reconcile with our husband. What if something goes wrong? What if him moving home ends up in disaster? Because of these worries, people sometimes want to break the process down into steps to make sure that they are doing everything that they possibly can to be successful.

Someone may ask this question: “are there any steps that I can take to ensure that my separated husband’s return home is seamless and successful? I have waited for this day for so long. And I truly do not want to mess things up and cause stress by overthinking it. But I can not help myself. The stakes are really, really high right now. I feel like I only have one chance to make this right. What steps can I take to make sure it all goes the way that it should?”

I can certainly offer some suggestions. And frankly, I wish I had taken some of these steps myself. My husband and I successfully reconciled when he moved back home. But there were a couple of bumps and missteps along the way.

Make Sure That This Is What Both People Truly Want And That The Commitment Is There: This is very important. Sometimes, we sort of hound our husband to come back home before he is quite ready or willing to do so. We rush the process. And although he may have come home eventually anyway, by rushing, we know in our hearts that he isn’t completely on board. And this makes us worry that perhaps he isn’t as enthusiastic as he should be. Having him move back in is challenging enough without worrying about whether he truly wants to be there. That’s why I recommend waiting until it’s very clear that the time is right and that his moving back in is what you both want without reservations.

Be Clear On How It Is Going To Work. And Don’t Stop The Plan That’s Already In Place: There is a real temptation to declare that everything is fixed once he moves back in and then to fall back to your normal marriage. I strongly urge you to resist this temptation. If you fall back into your old marriage, you may too fall back into your old problems. This isn’t what you want.

It’s important that you both know what to expect and that anything that you’ve been doing to heal your marriage continues. If you’ve been in counseling, stay there for a little while during this transition. If you’re been regularly working on your issues on your own, keep right at it. Now is not the time to let your guard down. Additional small issues will often crop up initially. Having this sort of plan in place ensures that you will be able to work through them with confidence and that you won’t allow additional problems to crop up unchecked.

Try To Do It Somewhat Gradually: I think that it’s ideal to have him move back into the home in phases so that it is not so overwhelming. Start with a night or two. Then move on to weekends. Then allow the weekends to spill over some. Eventually, it will just be a natural progression for him to stay permanently. This allows you to get a peek at any issues that might come up and it just makes the transition a little easier on every one.

Never Stop Checking In On Your Marriage: I don’t want to tell you to overanalyze everything and not enjoy your reconciliation. But I can’t overstate the importance of taking the pulse of your marriage (and how you are both feeling) regularly when he moves back in. Know what is working well and what is not. And be willing to tweak as necessary. Be honest. And be flexible. It’s tempting to brush over the problems. But in truth that is the worst thing that you can do. Identify the issues quickly and have the courage to bring them into the light and erase them. Encourage your husband to be very honest about what he is feeling. Because you can’t address issues if you are both not honest about them when they come up.

Don’t Hold Back: It’s so normal to be guarded and closed off when he comes home. You’re so nervous that it is all going to go wrong. You can almost shut down because of this. Remember that you’re finally getting what you have been waiting for. This is truly cause for celebration and happiness. Sure, you don’t want to overstep and assume that you are home free. There is certainly a lot of work that still needs to be done. But look at the progress that you have made. There should be pride and hope in that.

Can Marriages Survive It

shI sometimes hear from folks who are reluctant to agree to a long amount time of away from their spouse. Often, the marriage has been struggling and they are afraid that the time apart is going to be more than the marriage can handle.

Regardless, often the spouse who is being asked to stay put wants to accompany their spouse because the idea of being separated for an extended period of time scares them. They are afraid that the physical separation is going to turn into a literal separation. Someone might say: “my husband has a long-term job offer in another state. I admit that it is a great opportunity. And I probably would not be as worried about it if our marriage was doing great. But it is not. We have been struggling for almost a year. I also feel that my husband would not be considering this position if our marriage was still thriving. Since he is considering it, I feel like he is trying to escape me and our marriage. He is telling me that he thinks that a separation will do us both some good and will help us to reevaluate what we want. The way that he is talking, it makes me think that he believes that we are going to be officially separated while we are separated by distance. I’m afraid to ask him if this is true. My worry is that if he takes this position and we’re officially separated at the same time, our marriage just will not survive this. There is no word on how long the position will last. He could he gone for a quite a while. Do any marriages survive a long separation (time wise) when the couple is literally separated with a long physical distance?”

Yes, marriages do survive this. Sometimes, when couples “officially” separate, one of them moves away — or at least travels for some time. There are bicoastal marriages that survive. (Granted, many couples who attempt this have strong marriages. But many who are struggling make it also.) And the reason for this is that sometimes, the time apart can bring about a change in perception. When your spouse is no longer there, your ability to take them for granted diminishes. You may find yourself feeling lonely rather than free. And once this process happens, you may begin to realize that the issues that you thought were insurmountable may not be – assuming that you are willing to work hard to fix them.

Tips For Minimizing The Damage During A Long Separation: Whether you are talking about “long” in terms of a long separation meaning time, or “long” meaning distance, I think that it’s vital to remain in close contact. It’s very easy to let long periods of time go by without touching base and these lapses can lead to an EMOTIONAL distance rather than a physical one.

With this said, it can be extremely tricky to strike a balance between staying in close contact and giving your spouse “space.” In fact, this is probably the topic that I am asked the most about. When your spouse wants to separate from you, they are not always agreeable to constant communication. And when you attempt that, they will sometimes become frustrated and distant.

That’s why I’ve found it very important to try to agree on a schedule that you can both live with before he actually leaves. If he is resistant or says that he wants to just “see how it goes,” suggest touching base with one another at set times that are agreeable to both parties. If he is still noncommittal, then know that you may have to take the initiative at first.

Then, when you call at the agreed-upon time, you may get various responses from him. Try to adjust as needed. Some days, you may find him agreeable, affectionate, and animated. And the next day, it may be like pulling teeth to get him to talk to you. All of these responses are normal. It’s very easy to panic when you get so many different responses, but in my experience, it is best that you don’t. Because this will often just make it worse. Just tell yourself that you will give it some time and re-evaluate in a little while.

I know that this is a very difficult thing that you are facing. I know how scary this is. And you can certainly share your concerns with him before he makes a decision about taking the position and initiating a separation. There’s no question that the time and distance can pose additional challenges. But, I don’t want you to be discouraged, either. Many couples do survive separations that are long in terms of both time and distance. For some, the distance actually works for them instead of against them.